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Shedding Light on Postnatal Depression

What Causes Postnatal Depression?

Postnatal depression (PND) can come crashing into a new mother’s life or it can tiptoe in, feeling like an uninvited, and often misunderstood guest at what should be a joyous party celebrating a new life. Beyond the surface of what’s casually known as the “baby blues”, it becomes a silent struggle leaving many mums feeling guilty, detached, angry, and sad.



Postnatal depression, also known as postpartum depression, is a form of clinical depression that affects some new parents. It’s characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, despair, and sometimes an inability to bond with the baby. Symptoms can include fatigue (beyond what would be considered “normal” as a new parent), feelings of guilt and worthlessness, difficulty bonding with the newborn and in some extreme cases, thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby.


Becoming a mother is often described as one of the most joyous experiences, but for one in 7 women https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519070/) the days following the arrival of a little one can be clouded feelings of sadness, lack of confidence, guilt, inadequacy and many other negative feelings and thoughts. Understanding the causes of this silent struggle is a crucial part of the journey toward healing.


Postnatal depression (PND) isn't a mere emotional hiccup; it's a complex interplay of factors. Hormonal fluctuations, sleep deprivation, and the overwhelming responsibility of caring for a newborn can create a perfect storm. In many cases, the lack of a robust support system, predisposition for depression, and the unexpected financial strain can heighten the risk.


Fathers can also experience PND but normally experience it later on in the first year of the baby’s life. Additionally, men can experience it differently to women, with men struggling with feelings of anger and risk-taking behaviours. (https://www.unitypoint.org/news-and-articles/male-postpartum-depression--unitypoint-health#:~:text=1%20in%2010%20men%20experience,loss%20of%20interest%20and%20guilt).


How Long Does Postnatal Depression Last?

One question that can echo through the mind of a parent struggling with PND is, "How long will this last?" The duration of postnatal depression varies for each person, making it a perplexing aspect of the journey. For some, the cloud lifts after a few weeks, while for others, it lingers for many months.


In many experiences, time can seem to stretch indefinitely. The days blur into each other, and the weight on the shoulders of the parent can feel unrelenting. Mums and dads can question whether this is their new normal, and the uncertainty only intensifies the emotional toll. It's important to note that seeking professional help from your GP and counsellor will be vital to help provide you with support as you navigate this difficult time.


Counselling can play a vital role in managing parenthood while struggling with PND, as well as helping on the journey towards recovery. EMJ Counselling provides support for parents who are struggling with PND symptoms, helping them learn how to manage the symptoms and move through them to a life free of PND.


Seeking Light in the Darkness

Acknowledging that you may have postnatal depression and seeking help is the first step in finding the old you again. It's not a sign of weakness, but a courageous step toward regaining control of your emotional well-being. Understanding the causes can really help make sense of the whirlwind of emotions, but it’s seeking support that truly make a difference.


When in the depths of PND, sharing your struggles with healthcare professionals, a therapist, and/or support groups can be life-changing. Breaking the silence surrounding your experience can be a pivotal moment in your journey. When opening up about your struggles you realise you are not alone, you are a good parent, you just need some added support to help you as you start your journey towards feeling whole again. Countless parents struggle with PND and to know that there are others out there who are overcoming and have overcome PND is so encouraging.


If you find yourself wading through the murky waters of postnatal depression, know that you're not alone. Seeking support through family, healthcare professionals, friends and support groups can be the beacon that guides you through the darkness. Counselling can be extremely beneficial as it provides the support to talk through the struggles as well as strategies to move towards a life free of PND. At EMJ Counselling help is available. Together, let's continue shedding light on postnatal depression, making the path forward a bit clearer for mothers and fathers around the world.

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